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15 Easy Ways To Stay Productive Used By 15 Designers

15 Easy Ways To Stay Productive Used By 15 Designers

You love what you do, in fact you couldn’t imagine trading your life as a designer for anything else. But sometimes the frustration sets in because staying productive as a designer is tough.

Russian based designer Yevgeny Yermakov had the same problem and to combat it he’s been asking designers a set of five simple questions about their work habits and creative challenges, published on his website 5 Questions for 100 Designers. I’ve distilled the very best advice from the interview series here, so today I’m sharing 15 easy ways to stay productive used by 15 designers. Introduce these tactics to your day and you’re sure to see massive results.

1. Make a List

Make a to do list every single day and refer to it often. It will keep you on track and working in a productive way throughout your day. By making a list you will stop wasting time on deciding what to do next every few hours because it’s already set in your list.

2. Always Carry a Notebook

You never know when inspiration will strike, so always carry a notebook to ensure you are ready to record ideas and designs on the go. As a designer you depend on good ideas and it would be a shame if you forgot one because you had nothing to write it down when it came to you.

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3. Exercise to Clear Your Mind

When you’re sitting in front of a screen all day, you’re not getting the exercise your body needs. Make sure you do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to refresh your mind and stay productive.

4. Use a Timer & Set It Hourly

When you’re working, set a timer on your phone or clock and have it count down hourly. Seeing the time ticking by will keep you on track when distractions are tempting you, keeping you productive all day long.

5. Finish What You Start

Every time you jump to a new task, you waste valuable time and energy by switching your thought patterns and focus. Finish what you start before you begin something new to stay productive.

6. Listen to Music While You Design

Music can have an incredible impact on the way you work. Find music that keeps you working at a steady pace, the genre will be different for everyone so try out different styles to see what works for you.

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7. Break Up Screen Time

If you’re a designer it’s likely that a lot of your work is computer based. Even so, try to break up your day with less computer heavy activities (even if it just means a 15 minute break away from the screen). Try paper based sketching or flicking through books for inspiration.

8. Find Your Ideal Time to Work

Everyone’s ideal time to work is different. If you’re a morning person, capitalise on that by rising early. If you’re more of a night owl, then embrace it. Work with your natural rhythms, not against them, to stay productive.

9. Get Out of the House Every Single Day

Being cooped up at home isn’t good for productivity. You’ll end up feeling restless and unproductive if you spend too much time each day in the same room of your house. Get outside and embrace the real world.

10. Take a Break in Nature

Even better than just getting out of the house is taking a break in nature. It could be as simple as a walk to a local park, or some time sitting amongst the trees in your own garden. You’ll return to your work refreshed and productive.

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11. Give Yourself Real Deadlines

It’s easy to give yourself the benefit of time, especially when you’re working for yourself, but deadlines are powerful. Set a deadline then work towards meeting it. You might surprise yourself.

12. Create a Checklist

Make a list of things you need to check off to master a project you work on e.g. font style, fabrication or branding. Having a checklist will streamline the process and ensure you maintain a consistent quality in your work.

13. Take Care of You

Take time out for the things in your life that really matter. Make time for family, friends, your health and well-being. These are the things that really matter, and without them your work means little else.

14. Tap Into The Power of Technology

Apps like Evernote, Clear, iCal, Sparrow and Text Expander can help you get organized and keep you on track. Harness it and use it to your advantage.

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15. Keep Up The Momentum

Do something every single day to get closer to your goal. Momentum breeds momentum. Once you start you’ll keep gathering pace and your productivity will soar. You will be surprised by how much you have achieved at the end of the year.

Featured photo credit: My Decorative via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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